Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Enable Learning Anywhere with World’s First Portable LMS

A lot of us use LMS’s to get our documents across to the students, to track quality of content, to provide self-assessments… but on many occasions one of the key restrictions of the LMS’s is their lack of offline capabilities and autonomy. Sure, some offline LMS options are on the market and have improved over the years, but still a plug-in build option is not the same as a solution that was build to be portable. Now, mEKP will be launched and if you are interested you can get a free trial USB, follow the launch with a live webinar and all of this for free.

NetDimensions is redefining workforce learning with mEKP, a full-featured LMS that runs on inexpensive USB flash drives. It requires no installation or Internet connectivity.

Brandon Hall Research calls it “a disruptive step in the evolution of enterprise software.”

On October 21st, join NetDimensions’ CEO Jay Shaw and CIO Ray Ruff for a live behind-the-scenes presentation of mEKP and find out how to revolutionize workforce (and possibly also students in low-resource regions) support in your organization.

Register for this complimentary webinar and you will receive:

  • A PDF copy of the Brandon Hall Research briefing report on mEKP, and
  • A free USB drive with a trial version of mEKP

Webinar Schedule
Date: October 21, 2010
Time: 10:00am - 11:00am EDT (or 16:00 CEST), link to a world clock converter.
Click here
to register for this webinar.

Why am I interested?
In the Linqed workshop that a co-organized, institutional partners came from all corners of the world: Indonesia, Morocco, Cuba, Ecuador, Peru, Uganda, India, Nepal, South-Africa. Many of us are using Moodle as a LMS, the only problem is, that we have learners in sometimes low-connected areas. Sometimes electricity and the internet crash, and learning is put to a hold. The fact that LMS's sometimes cannot be reached, also affects learner motivation, so... this might be a great opportunity to deliver continued education, even in difficult to reach areas.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Free awareness games and how IBM embeds informal learning and training

The strength of IBM's training department is of course in its people, and the European eLearning group is lead by Bert De Coutere who has an eye for new learning potential and strategies. He is by no doubt a top competent training/eLearning visionary. He also wrote a book on competencies, which is definitely worth a read.

I recently had the pleasure of encountering Bert when he was presenting informal and game-based learning solutions from IBM. The great thing about Bert is, that you know you will learn something out of his presentation.

For those interested in immersive learning at IBM, check out these games, a soon to come and a well-known business game. For those intested in informal learning, scroll immediately down to the informal part. But first games:

CityOne: A Smarter Planet game (a FREE game)
Cityone is also an awareness game, which will be launched at 4th October 2010: energy, banking, ... choose which solutions you want to propose to make people happy. Think you know what it takes to make the energy systems that serve a city more efficient? Given the opportunity, could you make the city’s water cleaner and more plentiful, its banks more robust and customer-centric and its retail stores more innovative?
So, be sure to check your tweets on the 4th October 2010! In the meanwhile, have a look at the trailer:




Innov8 was a previous awareness game from IBM
(a free game)
IBM has made awareness games like Innov8 for some years. Innov8 is a serious game, used in e.g. Barcelona for business remodeling. The aim of the game is to understand what an organization really needs.
Awareness: people appreciated the link to reality. Innov8 has an introduction game with a guided mission. The game can be played online and is for free.




Bert also showed a game which was developed with the latest commercial gaming software's:
Diversity@play, this is a quickgame that was released for diversity awareness and behavior change.


Social learning - informal learning
What makes IBM interesting as a business, is that they invest in learning, they also try-out new educational insights. For example they promote training by choosing and highlight 'learning of the month' (easy and motivational, I am going to embed this in my institute).

Informal learning: within IBM staff is motivated to build a course that covers a couple of weeks and has multiple actions that are chosen by the learner, but where others can add activities too. For example if someone builds a new tool or starts to use it, they can build an informal course on it, and then offer this to the complete staff, this way those who could benefit from using this new tool can immediately start to learn about it.
How is this new? You might wonder. Well, the new hook is, that within IBM you can also get a 'training ribbon' after having taken this informal course build by colleagues. This way you can get some kind of certification AND it can become a hot topic inside the company or institute to take similar courses. Not sure if the builder of the course gets something out of it, but at least promotional options broaden.

This is Bert's presentation in Slideshare covering the above topics

Monday, 27 September 2010

CIDER free online session: Mobile Learning: Solutions and Challenges


Interested in mLearning? Or do you have a question concerning mobile learning, and you do not know where to ask it? Join this CIDER session presented by Marguerite Koole and myself. We will share our mLearning experience and we will gladly answer any questions you might have on the subject.

(from the CIDER description):
In this session, Marguerite Koole and Inge de Waard will describe two mobile learning projects:

1. A project piloting a Java-based system called "MobiGlam". Through MobiGlam, students accessed Moodle course modules on their mobile devices. Evaluations from this 2008 project highlighted some interesting challenges in the Canadian context.

2. A mobile learning project of the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium and the Institute of Tropical Medicine Alexander von Humboldt, Lima, Peru. Twenty physicians, deployed in urban peripheral HIV/AIDS clinics in Peru, used Smartphones with portable solar chargers to access 3D simulations of interactive clinical cases, discussion forums, and quizzes. A short paper on the project can be found here, if you have any questions, feel free to put them forward.

When: Wednesday, October 6, 2010, 11am-12pm MDT (Edmonton), which is 19.00h CEST, or look here for the time clock conversion.

Where: Online via Elluminate at:
https://sas.elluminate.com/m.jnlp?password=M.8B71B60F2931D029AC3837DC06B70D
The great thing about these CIDER sessions is, you can review them (for free) on a later date as well, for they record all their sessions. Interested in previous sessions? Look here.

Pre-Configuration:
Please make sure your Mac or PC is equipped with a microphone and speakers, so that we can use the Voice over IP functionality built into the web conferencing software. Please note that it is extremely important that you get your system set up prior to the start of the event. Information on installing the necessary software and configuring your PC is available at http://www.elluminate.com/support/ in the "First Time Users" section.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Learning = Sharing our national complexity to make understanding easier or just have a laugh

I travel, like many of you. I travel and on many occasions, I get the question: where is your country of origin. When people hear 'Belgium' chocolates and beer come to mind (really good stuff), but also ... well... less wonderful stuff (no government for months, language discussions...).
For although Belgium is tiny, its administration is BIG! For only 10 million people, yes, Belgium is that small.
So now, a simple movie of 4 minutes explains Belgium and how ... it is at the top of bureaucratic nations (you don't belief it, until you see it)! Feel free to have a look and most of all, if you have a movie explaining your country in just a couple of minutes, share it, I love to learn more about nations and their peculiarities.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Reusing eLearning material (OER) from other sources or not, asks UNESCO. Three reasons why I hesitate


Unesco is inviting us to jointly discuss OER, so if you are interested, let yourself be heard!

Let me first tell you how this started to become important (again). Last week I was one of the co-organizers and facilitators for an international eLearning workshop for the Linqed Network. The spirit of the workshop was amazing and we managed to grow collaboratively towards a better application of eLearning principles. However some issues got a heated debate going. One issue that was raised, was the issue of re-usability of learning materials, quality assurance across learning materials build in different institutes, and OER in general. For many of the participants were for using/building OER, but some remarks were made.

This is one of the key issues at UNESCO as well, so they are calling us all to chip in and discuss OER. Unesco is launching a new path forward for OER. If you are interested, you can now join Unesco's discussion forums and put in your insights, recommendations... concerning OER. These are the scheduled dates and topics:

The scheduled dates and broad themes for the online discussion forums are:

23 – 29 September 2010 Taking OER beyond the OER Community: Policy and Capacity

20 - 26 October 2010 What works, what does not and under what conditions?

10 - 16 November 2010 Copyright and the development and re-use of OER


Where do I stand? For me, OER are subject to three crucial criteria in order to make them interesting for other users:

Why would anyone search the already available OER to find learning material/content they can use?
It is worthwhile searching OER material in general, but once a person starts perusing through them, those resources must be really good for anyone wanting to reuse them or keep searching/reading through them. If the resources are not fully up to scratch or if the material is outdated, they risk to scare off the people searching through them. Their needs to be a success rate of finding relevant material for the one going through them. So I guess, much of its success relies on quality assurance of the material.

Zone of proximal recognition
Secondly, maybe in recognizing or wanting to use information there is also something like a 'zone of proximal development', but then in recognizing, or the willingness to recognize some information as important. I know for myself that certain eLearning thinkers appeal to me more then others, simply because their way of thinking/their world view is closer to mine. This might affect what I am looking for content wise. So in fact I censor the content I pick up based on my socio-cultural and political beliefs.

Improved (= tailored) search engines
And third, but not least: filtering what is useful to that particular person that is looking for OER can be a challenge. If the semantic Web takes off, the chance of me finding something useful based on my previous searches and keywords will increase, hence resulting in more success rates of hitting the information useful to me. So the quality of search engines also affects my willingness to go through them.

OER can help in content poor situations
On the other hand, if you are in a setting that simply does not have access to any content, or only scarcely, you will jump in the air for any OER that have solid content and can be used without extra HR or software needed.

Have any opinions on this matter? Join the discussion forum from UNESCO here.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

John Traxler on academic and corporate mLearning in a Global context


Today I am at the 13th edition of the Interactive Computer Aided Learning conference in Hasselt, Belgium. With some interesting speakers and presenters.
John is looking really sharp with a nice suite in distinguished grey on top of a black shirt.
Live blogging notes follow, so sorry for potential typos or strange writing:

John focusses on the difficulty nowadays to pick some mLearning examples, for there are so many strong and successful mLearning projects.

mLearning has reached the unreached in only a couple of years (first projects started 9 years ago). Spatial and geographical distances were crossed for many reasons. There are small and large scale projects.
Sparsity and distance (socio-economic, cultural) have also been bridged. (example in Wolverhampton: small steps to take the IT illiterate student from no instrument, over mobile, to computer).

One big EU mobile flagship the NEEDS projects with homeless learners (social distance), these projects are still going today. Indication of success, some of these projects led to changes in UK government and policies in the vocational and further education sector.

Sometimes time is an essential factor for learning with mobiles. There are of course also downsides to bridging time: less concentration, getting them away from spare time... Upside: it has been using time that otherwise would be wasted.

Exploiting a resource was at the core of many mobile projects (time, space...)
There is a need to explore how mobile technologies can expand the conception of learning.

PDA pilot study: Green energy in th Lake District (Sellafield Nuclear Site): field study mobile course, capturing measurements with mobile data capturing (saves time and gains on accuracy).
Contingent learning is suddenly possible, calculation in situ and it allows students to follow their curiosity while looking at the data (reacting to the reality of the measurements, more curiosity driven model).
Another adaptation e.g.: WII-mote + pico projector: mobile contingent possibility. Lectures and teaching on the fly!

Contingent teaching was not part of teaching and learning before.

Another need: to train professionals to use mobile technology in their professional field: practical, active learning. Situated and authentic learning makes it much easier to learn in those type of areas. communication between peers, teachers and lecturers, assessments, external material from the web, capture data.
If there are models of learning, this mobile technology allows them to be embedded in the context itself => more meaningful, more authentic.

Enhance the idea of what learning can actually be. It also allows to rethink the nature of assessments.
Students at practice will be able to produce 'evidence' that they undertook actions in a real life situation. (treating an animal, small surgeory...)
Much more meaningful assessment of their abilities.

E.g. context aware learning project: near metropolitan University (where they have been, who they are with, what they communicate...) So learning becomes part of open air learning, the outside world reinforces the actual learning and it is not hardwired.
also mentions the Uffizi gallery in Italy which can calculate what you are interested in, where you can find similar cultural artifacts, it can keep your interest and even adapt and suggest in different seasons.

Proximity is no longer what you are nearby, but also who you are nearby => near to zones of proximal development (Vygotsky)

augmented reality: overlay of images over the real world.

Most of the time: mLearning is linked to money and motivation, but there is very little (to no?) real, research evidence.

Some theories of m/eLearning (work of social constructivist, Diana laurillard), accounts of how people learn are challenged and extended. And we get a bigger pictures by the context that were never possible before.


Problems and challenges:
scale: lots of projects with little students, but it has not yet lead to scalable projects
sustainability: for the rich currently, difficult to get beyond that
embedding with other kinds of learning: institutional, life...
most research on mLearning is short term and fixed: most funding fell on stoney ground. Gov's fund good projects, but the funding should go to sustainable projects that can become good.

So far we have seen little sustained activity in mobile work (comment from myself: anyone interested in setting up a sustainable mobile project with social angle?)

Problem to find mobile business plans that fit developing countries' settings. Opportunity for social entrepreneurs that can get up and start projects. We ought to put innovations in social contexts, not contained environments (schools and classrooms). Increase serendipity to find something useful.

Maybe mLearning can also be a Trojan horse, loaded with unrealistic expectations (like eLearning got loaded: utopia).

(e.g. ironbridge: first things you do with a new technology is what was previously difficult, afterwards use it for things that were first impossible, only after a good amount of time it will be used for what is now seen as inconceivable.

mLearning might be just another way to sex up the idea of turning students into 'factory' workers.

Technology is just a lot of dumm tubes, you put stuff in their and it gets pumped along, but ... John argues that we are now a society being transformed by technology and so we are transformed with it.

New pressure on our personal time is also a challenge.

A difference in how knowledge is generated and produced, which was not the case in the past. Social media enable users to create content and knowledge. Mobile devices also allow contextualized knowledge, so you can talk (postmodern) that content is now very fractured, detailed...
It can be portrayed as democratization, but this entails challenges as well because there is less trustworthiness.

Various spaces get rearranged (personal, professional, private).

Monday, 13 September 2010

Join PLENK: the massive online course on Personal Learning Environments, Networks and Knowledge

Today PLENK2010 (hashtag: #PLENK2010) will start. The PLENK2010 is an open, massive online course, but with an extra, for PLENK2010 is also linked to to the Canadian National Research Council. For anyone interested in PLE's (Personal Learning Environments) this will be a massive learning opportunity, for I know that whatever Stephen Downes and George Siemens come up with, learning is assured and eye-opening on many eLearning subjects will happen. So if you have the time, sign in, sign the form for the research consent (see a bit further) and start learning with over 1000 other learners located around the globe.

For those of you who have heard of the CCK2008 or CCK2009, this is a new open course delivered in part by Stephen Downes and George Siemens, but... the group of facilitators has grown and added Dave Cormier (who was already joining in CCK for some parts).

Although the course will focus entirely on Personal Learning Environments (PLE), Networking and Knowledge, there is a very interesting track added to the course, as this course and the dynamics occurring in it will be used for research on the topic of online learning. As such it brings along the administrative parts of research. I find this very thrilling, as it will be 'live research'.

PLENK 2010 Research (copied from the course info)
Before the course starts, we would like to provide you with advance notice of research being conducted in this course.

Research Consent Document

Research in Personal Learning Environments
The Personal Learning Environments Networks and Knowledge course is part of the National Research Council of Canada's PLE research. The project will examine the learning that occurs as a result of interaction and participation in the distributed community. The goal of the research is to follow and document what communities of learners do when they are learning in a sizeable open online course.

Why are you being given this information as a learner?
Upon registering for the online PLENK course, you are being asked to take part in a study designed to examine various aspects of learning in a network, based on the model of the personal learning environment, in which each learner aggregates and works with a unique set of resources, and interacts and participates in a distributed online community.

The information in this page is intended to help you understand exactly what we are asking of you so that you can decide whether or not you want to register for the PLENK course and participate in the research. Please read this consent document carefully and ask all the questions you might have before deciding whether or not to participate or not in this study. Your participation in the course and research project is entirely voluntary and you can opt out of the course and the research at any time.

If you do not consent to this research, please unsubscribe.

Research Projects
There are four separate research projects being conducted in this course.

1. The NRC PLE Project research, conducted by Helene Fournier and Rita Kop.

2. Wendy Drexler and Chris Sessums will also invite you to participate in research on Personal Learning Environments and Personal Learning Networks and you will find an invitation to participate in their surveys in the Daily.

3. Dave Cormier and George Siemens carry out research in Massive Open Online courses but will not ask you to fill out surveys, as they will be observers on the learning environment.

4. Sui Fai John Mak will invite you to participate in his own research program.

Special Interest Group in PLE and PLN research
People engaged or interested in research in Personal Learning Environments and Personal Learning Networks will be invited to participate in a Special Interest Group on the subject by Hélène Fournier during the course. If you would like to participate in this development, watch the Daily for announcements on the S.I.G and the Moodle forum and wiki for developments!

Friday, 10 September 2010

Call for papers: Digital Futures: learning in a connected world


In the UK (and the world) there are a few pioneers leading the way in the field of innovative education, Steve Wheeler is one of them. Steve is chair for the 6th Plymouth eLearning conference, which will take place in Plymouth from April 6 - 8, in 2011.

This year the conference will focus on innovation including emerging technologies in education and training. So all of you k12 teachers, university pioneers, and trainers... start typing your abstract (only 200 - 300 words, so no excuse not to send it).

This years keynote speakers are:
Stephen Heppell: Stephen's ICT career (he is credited with being the person who put the C into ICT), began with the UK government's Microelectronics Education programme (MEP) in the early 80s, after he had been teaching for some years. Stephen founded and ran Ultralab for a quarter of a century, building it into one of the most respected research centres in e-learning in the world - at one time Ultralab was the largest producer of educational CD-ROMs in Europe - before leaving it in 2004 to found his own global and flourishing policy and learning consultancy Heppell.net which now has an enviable portfolio of international projects all round the world.

John Davitt: John Davitt is a writer, broadcaster and a digital toolmaker. He has worked in the education sector for the last twenty-five years as an English teacher, senior manager and regional adviser with the EU Flexible Learning Project. As a journalist he wrote for the UK Guardian, The Times and The Observer, with a regular feature in the Education Guardian. John has worked extensively with teachers in schools in UK, USA, China and Africa and he is committed to leveling the playing field regarding access to new learning opportunities. He has recently developed The Learning Score www.learningscore.org a visual tool that lets teachers map out and share learning intentions as a graphical event - rather like a music score. His latest project is the open source Learning Event Generator (http://legwork.pbwiki.com) and the Rag - an interactive learning tool for the iPhone where you can literally shake up a learning challenge. His new book '"World of Difference" will be published in Spring 2011.

And I will keynote as well... and my idea is to go for a vision of the future (+ linking it to some mobile projects I am involved in)... really go wild - for how else can one stay in balance with the other two really wonderful speakers? And let's be honest, getting asked to speak by Steve Wheeler feels awesome!

So, come over and join by sending in your paper. The conference organizers are seeking a range of papers which explore and address the 7 themes listed below:

  • ICT in Teaching: ICT in Teaching: Use of ICT to enhance teaching and learning - use of new technologies in the classroom; wireless technologies, interactive whiteboards, multimedia, videoconferencing, handhelds, laptops, data logging, specialist software.
  • Teacher Experiences: Teachers making a transition into e-learning - practitioners own attempts, benefits and implications, case studies
  • Students Experiences: Motivational factors needed to underpin effective ICT use or e-learning - learner empowerment, online autonomy, discussion groups, synchronous/asynchronous experiences.
  • e-Pedagogy: Teaching and learning using technology - developing new theories about e-learning, developing new practices, models of practice, e-tutoring and practitioner skills development.
  • Managed Learning Environments: Use of WebCT, Blackboard and other specialist software packages, advantages, disadvantages, case Studies, how teaching and learning develops within MLEs.
  • Societal Concerns: Issues underpinning the development and practice of e-teaching and learning - technophobia, technology dependency, digital divide, network security.
  • Operational issues: Funding for research and development, institutional attempts to invest in ICT and e-learning strategies to make them effective and relevant, support issues, management and leadership of ICT.
  • Web 2.0: Wikis, blogs, podcasting, and other online social networking systems for learning and teaching.

You are invited to submit a 200-300 word abstract which is relevant and meaningful to one or more of the themes listed above. All papers will be refereed by a panel of specialist practitioners and academics. The panel will also consider papers where presenters are geographically remote and where a suitable technology mediated method is used to deliver the paper.

Deadline for abstract submission is: January 14, 2011

Authors will be informed of the panel’s decision by: February 11, 2011

Accepted papers will be published in the conference proceedings available to all delegates on the day of the conference. Accepted paper abstracts will also be published on the conference website.

Papers will not be included in the conference proceedings unless at least one author has registered for the conference by the author’s deadline of February 18, 2011

So where will my keynote start from? I guess, somewhere around here (but definitely less sleek):

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Online CIDER session: Learning Issues for Online Graduate Students by Kelly Edmonds

Interested in understanding your online students a bit better? Join this CIDER session presented by Kelly Edmonds where results are shared from a recent doctoral study that explored the leadership implications for delivering online learning in a mainstream Canadian higher education institution (University of Calgary) by examining the characteristics, attributes, motivations, and perceptions of 163 graduate students.

The data revealed online program issues, the need for faculty presence and development for online environments, and supportive online student services. As well, the data showed leaders must consider working effectively with faculty and ensuring students had quality online experiences. Other leadership considerations were effectively planning, implementing, and delivering online learning as well as marketing online programs.
In this presentation three particular learning issues are shared that were described by participants. These are contentious online learning activities and the offer of blended learning opportunities. As well, participants had difficulties defining specific pedagogical strategies that would aid them in learning online.

When: Wednesday, September 8, 2010, 11am-12pm MDT (Edmonton), which is 19.00h CEST, or look here for the time clock conversion.

Where: Online via Elluminate at:
https://sas.elluminate.com/m.jnlp?password=M.8B71B60F2931D029AC3837DC06B70D
The great thing about these CIDER sessions is, you can review them (for free) on a later date as well, for they record all their sessions. Interested in previous sessions? Look here.

Pre-Configuration:
Please make sure your Mac or PC is equipped with a microphone and speakers, so that we can use the Voice over IP functionality built into the web conferencing software. Please note that it is extremely important that you get your system set up prior to the start of the event. Information on installing the necessary software and configuring your PC is available at http://www.elluminate.com/support/ in the "First Time Users" section.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Big Question: How to use Text-to-Speech in eLearning and when


In the Big Question launched by Tony Karrer this month, he wonders how we use Text-to-Speech (TTS) in our courses? He also reflects on budget and the combination of TTS and the text that can be shown, but I will only look at when and how I have been using TTS.

Tony Karer and Joel Harband (from Tuval software) got together and wrote up three posts on embedding Text-To-Speech in your eLearning courses. If you have not used TTS in your courses yet, have a look. If you have gone through these three posts, you really know how to embed TTS in your eLearning courses (e.g. integrate them into Articulate or Lectora, use them in Adobe Captivate...). The three posts focused on different angles of TTS:


But Tony's Big Question of this month is: when do you use TTS in your courses? Or when do you use it to keep up with some learning activities yourself?

When the audio is only a dry representation of the content => TTS fits
Of course, what do I call 'dry content'? And can you - as a trusted eLearning developer - allow yourself to distribute dry content? Preferably not, but sometimes, content is not that flashy and in these cases TTS might cut audio cost. But you would not want your learners to listen to lengthy TTS audiofiles anyway, any learning should be delivered bytesize, certainly when the topic is dry in itself.
Delivering an audio file for those who want to, goes quickly with TTS. TTS can greatly benefit all your learners that are vision impaired in any way, but also people that are learning in an environment that is not favorable to reading (a bumpy bus ride, while driving a car, learning at night while driving along with your co-worker, at night with power cut...). Or simply to indulge those learners that have a better audio memory than reading memory. So, if you address a variety of learners and you want to offer them an audio file, TTS can really make it easy (and cheap) to do this.

I use TTS for a variety of reasons, sometimes for professional reasons, sometimes personal.
Personal use: I use OdioGo (which is a TTS from RSS feeds to podcasts) to turn my blogposts into audio files, by linking them to iTunes, all my posts are easily downloaded as podcasts. So if anyone wants to listen to it, they can.

Professionally I do use it, but with a limitation. With two limitations actually (very small audio studio is one I will not go into). When the content is dry, a TTS works fine, but when the content is sensitive or in need for nuance, I tend to go for a voice over.
The real voice is preferred to get closer to the real learning context. To enhance our animations we sometimes use real voices
In the past I have used voice overs for animation, for instance with the moviestorm software (an animation software), I put my voice over it. This was also done with other eLearning movies that were based on animations (Spanish example below, the second half of the 2 min video features the animation).

video

Why did we go for voice over of a real person? It was a matter of keeping the quality of the voice in relation to the content. For many TTS softwares do not always sync to the feel of a text, and the same phrase voiced with different intonation can really alter the message of a sentence. For instance, if you want to sound ironic, you will use a basic sentence (e.g. Do you?), and only add an extra intonation to give it the ironical edge.

Adding a real voice, can sometimes also add to the cultural background and fit the learning relationships of certain cultures. For example in some parts of Africa the grandmother knows her medicine, which means that if you are ill, you go to grandma to get cured. So when we prepare a course to increase medical awareness, we tend to add a real African older woman's voice to the course. This way it also feels more relevant and truthful from a cultural perspective.

It is the same with gps-voices. These are all smooth, clean voices, but that does not add to their credibility. But when a GPS has a 'dialect' voice that fits a certain area (e.g. a Texan voice), it immediately comes closer to the heart of some people.

In short: for very dry material, I would go for TTS and give it as an option to learners that prefer to learn via audio. But for more sensitive and context related content, I still prefer voice-over to add a more human feel to a course.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

My top 10 learning tools


Every year (since 2007), Jane Hart from the Center for Learning & Performance Technologies (or C4LPT) is getting all of us on board to get our top 10 learning list together.

It is a wonderful list created by inputs from all of us, so add your tools to it. It gives you a moment to reflect on which tools you use most, or with the utmost enthusiasm. Feel free to add your top ten learning tools via this link, or simply go through the list as it grows here.

These are my top 10 learning tools, they are all connected to mobile learning in some way and I linked them to the possible learning surplus they offer:

Twitter: it is the easiest tool to use, cross devices (mobile or not) and it enables both networking, learning, and activism. In one of the latest twitter related applications, you can now even publish (in just three clicks) your own newspaper with paper.li (if you have not tried it, but you have a twitter account, do it, you will love it. Here is my daily newspaper: Ignatia Webs Daily.
Learning bonus: getting answers, sharing knowledge, creating interactivity in class/conference/event.

Posterous: a really amazing tool that enables you to add content (any content) via email (from any device, mobile or computer). Once I have added your e-mail, you will get an e-mail send to you to confirm this is indeed something you want to register to. After you have confirmed that e-mail, you can start mailing any text/multimedia content you have (well almost any). You can attach any type of file and Posterous will post it along with the text of your email.
Posterous will do smart things for photos, audio files and links, documents and video (both links AND files). And you can even filter on the type of files, enabling them to be send to specific areas as well (e.g. flickr) depending on the file type. Learning bonus: sharing content with peers and group work on-the-go (you can add your friends, colleagues or family’s email addresses to any Posterous site you control. Then they email to a designated mail to post to it. They don't even need to create an account.All posts and comments on that site will be emailed to all contributors instantly. It's works just like an e-mail list.)
Learning bonus: combine group/team work and resources in a central portal/website via one single type of uploading mechanism: e-mail.

Skype: simply the best tool which can be used across devices (mobile or computer).
Learning bonus: peer discussions.

SurveyGizmo
: a really easy survey building tool, which also enables you to take surveys with you mobile. There is a free version, which allows you to create an unlimited amount of questions, but only 250 responses per month. The great thing is, you can get real time results. Why is this great? For the learning bonus: use it in a real time classroom or online course: it will allow you to immediately tailor your presentation, depending on the real-time feedback of your surveys.

Blogger: central to my PLE (personal learning environment).
Learning bonus: reflective process which proceeds the actual writing, content discussions, team posting.

Slideshare: which is available mobile devices as well. Slideshare enables anyone to share documents, mostly powerpoints, with others.
Learning bonus: sharing knowledge and content repository.

Picasa: this easy to use picture sharing software is also available for mobile. Downside if you upload from your mobile is: even if you geo-tag the pictures you take, the GPS data is deleted from the EXIF data, so you still have to manually geo-tag any pictures you upload via your mobile. If you upload any pictures from a desk/laptop or net-book, be sure to check the option "Actual Size (slowest upload)", that way your GPS data stays with the picture.
Learning bonus: sharing stories via pictures, sharing medical cases, ...

Camtasia studio: great screen and live recording tool to create podcast's or other movies. The surplus of Camtasia is the wide variety of formats it can publish in (including mobile) and its really stunning way (= easy) to add subtitles to the movies you make.
Learning bonus: multimedia content learning.

Facebook: a tool that allows you to discuss, share resources, embed other social media...
Learning bonus: staying on top of your PLN (personal learning network), also for group work.

Audacity: any quick audio editing will become easy with this free and open source tool. Learning bonus: great for any podcast, also usable to upload to iTunes.

Let me know your list as well!